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The Incident at the Playground (Part 2) [Aug. 1st, 2008|08:11 pm]
A New American Family
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Originally published at American Family. Please leave any comments there.

“Ok, M, we are going back to the park!” I said.

Even though this was a strange turn of events at 7:20 pm, M didn’t seem to mind.

“You know, M, you said something before that made me think of a story.  When Mommy and Daddy first met, some people said ‘I can’t believe you two are friends!  You look so different!’ but we said “Don’t be silly!  Looking alike doesn’t have anything to do with who is a good friend!’  and Mommy and Daddy became best friends.  We ended up getting married!   Weren’t those people silly?”  I said, possibly a little bit of desperation in my voice.

M looked confused.  “But you and daddy DO look alike,” she said.

Hmm.  This presented a problem.  In previous discussions, M had indicated that she has a very difficult time recognizing the physical traits that people generally use to differentiate between Asians and people of European descent.  (In part, I think this is because she currently refers to herself as “white skin,” but she has some of the other traits.  We have had other recent conversations about “half Chinese” and her confusion, but that would be a different post.)  So we spent a minute or two talking about how some people think Asians’ eyes look a certain way, skin tone, and hair color.   It still didn’t seem like she was getting that Mr. A and I were viewed as different from each other, so I decided to change stories.

“M, do you remember meeting my friend Amelia?  Do you remember what she looked like?”  I asked.

M described my friend’s brown skin and very short hair.  M has always been fascinated with Amelia’s very, very short hair.
“Amelia and Mommy look very different, don’t we?  Amelia has dark skin, because she is from Africa.  Mommy has lighter skin because my ancestors were from Europe. But we are still good friends, right?”

M conceded that yes, we are friends.

“Don’t you think it would be silly if I never talked to Amelia because she looked different from me?  How would I know she could be such a good friend if I never talked to her?”  I asked.

“Yes, she is your friend and she looks very different!” M said, “She has really, really, really short hair!”

“And she has dark skin,” I said, afraid M was trying to change the subject.  “I have lots of friends who look different from me and you have lots of friends who look different from you.  Can you think of ways our friends are different from us?”

Then we ran down a list of our friends, naming each one and describing something that was different than ourselves.  We talked about different hair color, skin color, different languages people speak etc.

“And look at F!” I said, “You are friends with him and he is a BOY! That is different from you!  He has a PENIS!”

M looked at me and said, “Mama, let’s keep potty talk out of this conversation.”

So then I told M I was surprised to hear her say she didn’t want to play with someone because she had different hair and dark skin.   “She could be a very nice girl and a good friend.  Just like all our other friends who are different from us. You will never know unless you talk to her.” I said.

Just then, we rounded the corner to the park.  I saw a little girl who was about M’s age with dark skin and braids playing on the playground.  I took a deep breath and we headed toward the slides.
(To be continued)


The Incident at the Playground (part 1) [Aug. 1st, 2008|01:58 am]
A New American Family
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Originally published at American Family. Please leave any comments there.

The other night, Mr. A took the girls to the playground after dinner.  When they came home about 45 minutes later, Mr. A whispered “Uh, there was an incident at the playground…”

This is what he described:  M and L were playing at the playground and a little girl seemed VERY interested in playing with M.  The little girl was Black, with dark skin and many braids.  Usually, M is happy to play with anyone who will talk to her (particularly girls about her age), but not for some reason not this girl.  Mr. A said M consistently ignored the little girl, despite her clear interest.

“I think she didn’t want to play with her because she was Black!” Mr. A whispered, “I didn’t know what to do, so we just came home.”
As you can imagine, this information made my stomach drop.  I immediately flashed back to the many, many conversations I have had with M trying to avoid this very situation.

I decided to try to find out more info.  I casually asked M if she made any new friends at the park.

“Not tonight,” she said, refusing to elaborate.

“Oh, weren’t there any kids there who were your age?” I asked.

“There was a girl…” M said, “But she was DIFFERENT so I didn’t want to play with her.”

(That loud thunk you just heard in your imagination was the sound of my jaw hitting the floor.)

“How was she different?” I said, very afraid to hear the answer.

“She had BRAIDS,” M said, “Lots and lots of braids.  And her skin was very dark.”

So there it was.  There was no way to pretend that M was avoiding the girl for some other reason.  She just laid it all out there.

“Huh.” I said and backed out of the room to confer with Mr. A.

“OMFG!?!?! Did you hear what she said?? What the F-ITY F  F F?!??!?!?” I hissed.

“She said THAT?!?!” he said, “What are we supposed to DO?”

“Well, we damn well have to do SOMETHING.” I said, “Was that girl still at the park?  Maybe I should talk to M and take her back over there so she can learn that she is being ridiculous?”

After a quick discussion, that is exactly what I decided to do.

(To Be Continued)


Story Prompt [Jul. 30th, 2008|02:16 am]
A New American Family
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Originally published at American Family. Please leave any comments there.

For lack of anything more interesting to say, this post is inspired by Princess Nebraska’s story prompt.

I wouldn’t say it was my best idea.  One summer evening when I was 12 and having a friend sleep over at my house, I decided that I would show off by sneaking alcohol out of my parent’s liquor cabinet.

My parents have never been big drinkers.  An occasional beer or maybe Fuzzy Navel was about as adventurous as they got.  This meant that the selection I had to choose from was small.  All I could find was a bottle of Peach Schnapps and a bottle of Root Beer Schnapps.  My friend and I mixed them together in a big cup and swilled them down.  Then we fell asleep.
As you might imagine, the combination of various schnapps and a ninety-pound sixth grader didn’t mix particularly well.  It wasn’t long before I woke up vomiting all over the basement couch.  It was a particularly nasty smell as the mix of beef-a-roni and flammable root beer alcohol filled the air. My friend panicked and ran to get my parents.

When my mom came to clean up the mess, she did not seem to notice anything was amiss.  “It must have been bad beef-a-roni.”  I told her as I stumbled up the stairs to my bed.

The next morning, I had a bitty-league softball game.  When I got up, my parents deemed me healthy enough to attend.  I didn’t mention my nausea and my splitting headache.  In retrospect, I wonder if they suspected we had been drinking because they served particularly runny eggs.  Maybe they were trying to punish me by making my hangover worse.

That was the beginning of a series of bad choices that went unnoticed or unacknowledged by my parents until I left for college.  Did they really not notice the occasional binge drinking?  The saying I was at the library when I was really sleeping with hanging out with a skateboarder boy?  The sneaking off to the nearest big city to hang out in college bars?  There were a million instances where I was convinced I had outsmarted them.
If my children happen to read this in their adolescent years, I want to take this time to assure them:   I will notice.  And there *will* be consequences.

While I don’t think there is anything necessarily wrong with experimentation and sneaking around (isn’t that the job of teenagers?), there will be consequences.  Or at the very least an acknowledgment of their dumb choices.
Why?  Because *my* children will not labor under the illusion that their parents are too dumb to figure out what they are doing.

To this day, I don’t know if my parents really were too oblivious to figure out what was going on, or if they just chose to ignore it.


Jitters and Shakes [Jul. 29th, 2008|03:09 pm]
A New American Family
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Originally published at American Family. Please leave any comments there.

I swear, I never learn.

This winter I managed to successfully wean myself off caffeine because it wrecks my sleep no matter when I drink it.  (I sincerely believe I have this gene mutation.) Now, I only drink decaf coffee or caffeine free soda.  Unless there is a lack-of-sleep emergency, that is.

Last night, L was a sleep trainwreck.  She woke me up maybe four or five times (which is completely unacceptable for a 2.3 year old IMO).

This morning, I was very very tired, so I made myself a big cup of half-caf coffee.  HALF CAF.  That shouldn’t be a big deal, right?

So not 30 minutes later, I noticed I was feeling extremely anxious and shakey.  For no good reason, I am a giant barrel of anxiety.  And then I remembered the damn coffee.

Stupid coffee.

Now I am going to have to wait two hours for these damn jitters to wear off.

On to other things, I could use some suggestions.  M’s favorite books are the Junie B. Jones series.  For a long time, we would read them together, one chapter per night.  Now, all the sudden, she doesn’t have the patience to wait for that and has been reading them on her own.  Yesterday, she sat down for about an hour and a half and read three of them in a row.

She has read all but maybe 6 or 7 of them now.  I need to come up with another series of books to keep her busy.  She has already read all the Ramona books, but she isn’t quite ready to read at the Little House on the Prairie level of difficulty yet.

I also hope to keep her reading age-appropriate subject matter.  For example, I think she could probably read the Babysitters’ Club books level of difficulty, but she probably wouldn’t be interested in the pre-teen subject matter.  She is also adamantly opposed to anything remotely scary, so Harry Potter is not possible yet (plus, I think it is still to complex for her to understand the storyline.)
Any suggestions?


One down, 29 to go [Jul. 28th, 2008|12:49 am]
A New American Family

Originally published at American Family. Please leave any comments there.

Today, I finally managed to scratch one item off my list of 30 Things to Do Before I Die.

Only 8 years of watching them be eaten by others at dim sum, I finally tried chicken feet.  I was at dim sum with two friends today for lunch and I said I would give them a try.   I thought it would be no problem until they were on the table in front of me.

I am not usually a squeamish eater.  I have eaten frog, snails, intestines, stomach, rabbit, 1000 year old egg, and food served by dozens of dubious-looking street vendors without flinching.  None of those were nearly the challenge of the chicken foot.

Once it was on my plate, I couldn’t get past the nubs where the claws used to be.  Every time I looked at that part, I felt a little woozy.  But if I didn’t do it today, odds were I was never going to do it.   So I hiked up my sleeves, drew my chopsticks and took a nibble off a chicken knuckle.

It wasn’t terrible.  Mostly slightly greasy skin, but my teeth bumped up against cartilege or a joint or something and that was the end of that.  I could go no further.

But the nibble was enough to mark it off the list.

Now, I don’t ever have to feel obligated to do that again.



wordpress password help [Jul. 25th, 2008|12:49 am]
A New American Family

Originally published at American Family. Please leave any comments there.

Is there anyone out there who may know how to fix my computer problem?  When I read other people’s password protected posts in wordpress, I can’t access the post even though I enter the correct password.  It just gives me a blank page.  

Any ideas?  It is really, really annoying.

Edited to add: I also tried to login with foxfire and the same damn thing happened, so it must be my computer, right?

Also, the blank page is giving me the address of blogpage/wp-pass.php  WTFityFF!?!


Problem solved, but I am going to leave this here for internet posterity.   My computer had TWO firewalls running at the same time and this was causing a problem.  Once I turned the Computer Associates Personal Firewall off, passwords started working again.  yay!


Do Gooder [Jul. 24th, 2008|04:02 am]
A New American Family
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Originally published at American Family. Please leave any comments there.

Once upon a time, Mr. A’s job bothered me.  I mean, I am a FEMINIST.  A LIBERAL.  And here I am, living off the profits Mr. A earned by representing corporations who kill puppies and destroy the ozone layer for fun.

Just kidding, I actually don’t know what companies he represent actually allegedly did or did not do. 

I don’t know, because when Mr. A starts talking about work, my brain gets cloudy and I hum a nice “la la la la la” song in my head while trying to look interested until he gets it out of his system.  I learned this technique when M started telling me ridiculously boring stories about dragons, imaginary friends and super heros.  It works equally well with both of them.

Anyway, what I was trying to say is that I used to be more bothered by Mr. A’s clients until I got used to living off his income and not needing to work myself.  The ethical stuff doesn’t bother me much at all anymore, now I just wonder why they aren’t paying him more.  Ahem.

Recently, though, Mr. A got assigned to a case that is clearly on the good guys’ side.  For the sake of lawyer-client-lawyer’s wife confidentiality, we will just call that client “Benevolent Corp.”  I like Benevolent Corp.  I think they are very interesting and cool, so I gave Mr. A a big thumbs up when he told me about the case.

I think Mr. A is trying to leverage this rare opportunity of wife job-approval.   His is name dropping Benevolent Corp. all over the place.

“I was really busy at work today, the Benevolent Corp. case is taking a lot of my time.” he said.

And: “I was researching blah blah blah for Benevolent Corp….” 

And “Today I was talking to XYZ person about Benevolent Corp…”

“I have to work late tonight — it is the Benevolent Corp. case!”  he said, knowing full well I wouldn’t begrudge the extra time for Benevolent Corp.

I am starting to think I am lucky he doesn’t work in public interest law all the time.  If it was his career I may actually have to be interested in his job, rather than just pretending to listen.  We would probably be a lot poorer if he did that kind of work too. 

Hopefully, he will get this bit of do-gooder-ness out of his system before it becomes a lifestyle choice.  Everything in moderation, right?



5 Questions [Jul. 23rd, 2008|03:05 am]
A New American Family
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Originally published at American Family. Please leave any comments there.

I saw this over at Dawn’s and it dovetails with some questions I have received lately (here and IRL)about whether or not I will be closing up shop and why I blog.

1.)  Why did you start a blog?

I think I started blogging because I was very lonely.  We were living in a new city and had few friends here.  If that wasn’t enough, I was the very first person among all our friends to get pregnant and have a baby.  There was no one who could share the suck that is learning to be a parent.  It was a really hard time.

2.) Why do you continue to blog?

I love my blog.  I love the friends I have met here (both IRL and online).  I like getting feedback on things I am thinking through.  I like going back to see what the hell I was thinking in the past (even though it is often embarrassing).  I like it when people think I am funny.  I like having a place to vent.  I like meeting new people.  I like opening my email and seeing new comments.  I like knowing that someone will stumble on this blog and know they aren’t crazy or they aren’t the only one who ever felt how they feel right now.  I like helping people battle the scourge that is yucca plants.  Basically, I blog because I like it and the pros far outweigh the cons.  If it wasn’t enjoyable any more, I would stop.  Right now, blogging makes my little world better.

3.) Do you have a blogmother/blogfather?

My interest in internet communities started with the old Hipmama and Mamatron boards, but I rarely participated there.  I read blogs for maybe a year or so before I started blogging.  Dawn was one of the first blogs I read when I still lived in San Francisco and now we are real-life friends.  Most of the others I originally read are now long gone.

4.)  Any downsides to blogging?

Well, there was this incident.  That sucked.  There is also the double-edged sword of blog-drama.   It can be fun for a while, but then it just feels yucky.   I have always been someone who has the unfortunate tendency to take things a step or two too far then regret it later and blog drama certainly feeds that impulsivity.  I think I have managed to stay out of the fray for quite a while now.  Trolls used to bother me, but now they really don’t.  I moderate commenters who are just trying to be assholes, so that helps.  It also used to freak me out when I would meet people for the first time and they already know all about me because they read my blog.  Now I am used to it, so it rarely bothers me any more.

5.)  Do your ‘real world’ friends know you blog?

I used to keep it a secret, but I ended up with so many friends that I met online the two worlds began to overlap.  Right now, pretty much everyone knows about my blog except some relatives who are rarely online (though I suspect my sister will eventually find this — Hi there! Please don’t mention this to Mom and Dad!  You know they would not approve!).  Most of my friends know where they can find my blog if they want to.   I don’t link my name to the blog to protect my future job prospects (HA!) and to keep a tiny shred of anonimity for Mr. A and the girls.   


forgotten items. [Jul. 21st, 2008|01:12 am]
A New American Family
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Originally published at American Family. Please leave any comments there.

Items I forgot to add to vacation by the numbers:

2.5 - hours of precious internet connectivity (wireless at the beach was VERY spotty) I wasted surfing the Jon & Kate plus 8 controversy websites.  Who knew that Aunt Jodi had been wronged and her sister was blogging in her defense?  Seriously, that is 2.5 hours I will never get back. 

9 - number of comments/looks that confirmed my mother’s dislike of people sharing all their personal dirt on the internet (when I was discussing the JK+8 shenannigans with my sister).  Ahem.  Glad she doesn’t know about this here blog, eh?

3 - number of people who could not refrain from commenting/staring at L in Charleston.  The first time, it was annoying.  The second time, I was visibly agitated by the gushing old lady.  By the third time, when a woman pointed rudely and called her very uninterested son’s attention to L at the aquarium and said “Look, Brendan!  Look at that baby girl!  Doesn’t she just look like a little doll!  She is just like a little china doll!  Just look at her!  Look at her!”  As if L was a fucking display like the fish.  Just as I was beginning to stomp over to tell her she was being rude when I saw my mom obliviously walking in my general direction.   My mom is NEVER someone who approves of a scene, no matter how justified.  So I stifled my rant and just moved to block the moron’s view of L.  These kind of interactions rarely happen at home, so I am wondering if my fine-tuned keep-away, what-do-you-think-you-are-doing-don’t-you-know-staring-is-rude and don’t-bother-my-kids vibe is only effective with a Midwestern audience.

16.25 - dollars earned by M on our trip.  The first day, I gave her 40 quarters.  Every time she whined, complained, threw a fit, or misbehaved, she had to give us a quarter.  I thought for sure she would come home broke, so I also gave her an additional 5 quarters every day.  It worked like magic.  The most quarters she lost in a single day was 3 and that was on the trip home when she was suffering from a bout of low blood sugar.  I also gave her 6 post-its to use when she wanted to ask “How much longer until we get there?”  Every time she asked, she had to give up a post-it.  After all the post-its were gone, she had to start paying a quarter each time she asked.  She only used 4 on the way to the beach and 2 on the way home.  For each post-it she didn’t use, she got another quarter.  Money was a good motivator for M, that is for sure.  A trip without whining was worth every single penny we spent.


Vacation by the Numbers [Jul. 19th, 2008|02:31 am]
A New American Family

Originally published at American Family. Please leave any comments there.

750- Miles.  Distance from our house to Seabrook Island.

5 - West Virginia style hotdogs at this restaurant.  Big thumbs up.  Difficult to find from the highway though.

2 - Nights in a town we dubbed “Asia of the South” while visiting a friend in North Carolina.  Seriously, all the signage in my friend’s apt complex was also in Korean.  Who knew?

3 - Days with my parents before Mr. A and I got extremely irritated.

0 - Arguments and confrontations about the irritation.  (Also, church discussion avoided.)

47 - Games played.  Wii tennis, Apples to Apples and Risk, mostly.

57 - Dollars.  Expensive rainy day visit to the Aquarium.

2 - Snails eaten by me.  Mr. A and I had dinner out at a nice restaurant.  Not fancy in appearance, but excellent food –though I could live without ever eating snails again.  (The first 4 chews of the snail were good.  The rest of the chews tasted exactly the way you would imagine snails would taste.  Ugh.)

103 - Dollars.  Cost of dinner and drinks at the fancy restaurant.

500 - Dollars.  Approximate total amount of money we spent on the entire week-long trip.  Thanks for financing the condo and the groceries Mom and Dad!

13 - Hours we will spend in the car tomorrow.  Fun. Fun. Fun.


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